Pakistan’s efforts of pursuing peace have been spurned by Indian leadership using various self created incidents as excuse for scuttling the reconciliation process. Such antagonistic behaviour leaves no option for Pakistan but to construe that India is not sincere in endorsing Pak-India peace process. Using the plea of plugging gaps along the Line of Control (LoC), separating Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK), India had erected a barbed wire topped electric fence, patrolled by ferocious dogs and soldiers, besides mining the area; yet it continues blaming Pakistan for launching terrorists across the LoC.
Economic Times of November 23, 2013 reveals that Indian authorities are planning to construct a 10-meter high embankment along 198-km stretch of LOC. The security wall will be higher and wider than both the Berlin Wall and serpentine barrier being created by Israel. It will be 135 feet wide and will pass through 118 villages of Districts Jammu, Kathua and Samba. Reportedly initial work on the wall has started and revenue papers for designated land in 86 villages have been processed to get No Objection Certificate from the state Government. A joint land demarcation in 44 villages is likely to start soon. The purpose is to deter much propagated cross border intrusions into IOK. Though the total cost estimation has not been made public, yet it has been decided that Indian Home Ministry will fund the project while it will be handled by Border Security Force. The Economic Times report further informed that instead of brick and mortar that went into the making of the walls in Berlin and Israel, the proposed embankment will use earth excavations to create a parallel trench, making movement almost impossible. The entire fence is floodlit, while there are 12-feet high twin fences running parallel to each other with an eight-foot gap in the middle filled with coils of razor-sharp concertina wire. Besides, there are thermal imagers to make the fence almost impregnable.
Apparently, India has drawn inspiration from the reprehensible Israeli wall coming up on West Bank and the Great Wall of Berlin that symbolized Cold War, dividing a nation for over four and a half decades. Such a decision runs contrary to all norms of justice and fair play, exposing India’s real visage of hatemongering.
India remains oblivious to the United Nations’ recognition of Kashmir being a disputed territory and the implication that it would be illegal to construct such a “Great Wall” which would also widen the deep chasm between the Kashmiris on both sides of the divide i.e. AJK and IOK. Among the confidence building measures introduced by Pakistan under the composite dialogue process, the softening of the LOC to enhance people to people contact had brought relief to the Kashmiris but India wants to suppress any contact between the populace.
Kashmiris on both sides would obviously reject the policies of building walls as they desperately desire to have closer ties with their kith and kin across the LoC.
Technological advancement and the widespread reach of the media have shrunk the world into a global village. Efforts through Aman-Ki-Asha and back door diplomacy are meant to build bridges of peace. The aim is to enhance people to people contacts. The Wall of Berlin came down in 1990, reunifying Germany, while the entire world has condemned the Israeli wall erected to partition Palestine, but India wants to portray divisive symbolism.
Human Rights organizations need to censure India for creating another “Great Wall”—a symbol of hate.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while addressing the International Literary Cultural Conference at Lahore, pledged to resolve all outstanding issues with India besides lifting the visa restrictions. Unfortunately India has failed to reciprocate with the same spirit to improve relations with Pakistan. Instead media reports revealed that India has planned to build a “Great Wall” on the LoC, which is appalling.
Indian aspirations of becoming an economic giant cannot be achieved through messages of animosity. It needs to appreciate that economic progress in the region will only be possible if confidence and trust of Pakistan is enabled. This can be achieved through winning hearts and minds of people, which call for building bridges and not “Great Wall”.
The writer is a former group captain of PAF, who also served as air and naval attaché at Riyadh. Currently, he is a columnist, analyst and host of programme Defence and Diplomacy on PTV.